Política, Brexit, turismo, actualidad, finanzas, Cataluña, ecologismo, medios o corrupción son algunos de los temas que trata este boletín informativo

Opinión. El periodista Lenox Napier repasa la actualidad española en su boletín semanal Business Over Tapas, al que puede suscribirse por 60 euros anuales. Puede obtener más información en su web (AQUÍ) o en su perfil (AQUÍ). EL OBSERVADOR / www.revistaelobservador.com ofrece este contenido tres días después de su lanzamiento...


Finally on Tuesday, in a second round, Spain’s parliament chose Socialist leader Pedro Sánchez to form a new government, ending almost a year of political limbo for the euro-zone’s fourth-largest economy. The vote was impossibly tight, with Sánchez and his coalition partner from Unidas Podemos Pablo Iglesias taking 167 votes against 165, with 18 abstentions.
Much of the rhetoric and the pressure concerned the issue of the Catalonian call for independence, which we are told elsewhere is a minority view in the region. The right-wing parties in Spain (including the ‘centrist’ Ciudadanos) are intent on applying ‘Article 155’ – direct rule from Madrid – on the region, and their hostility against Sánchez was apparent as he was obliged to persuade the ERC to abstain. (Ciudadanos could have removed the Catalonian problem by themselves abstaining, but that’s politics).
During the weekend’s intemperate first investiture debate, the PP leader Pablo Casado branded Sánchez as a ‘sociopath’. The Vox leader Santiago Abascal wasn’t any friendlier, calling Sánchez a ‘traitor’ (here).
From The Guardian here: ‘...The PSOE and Unidas Podemos have promised their joint government will increase the minimum wage, raise taxes on higher earners and big companies, and overhaul some of the labour changes introduced eight years ago when the conservative People’s party (PP) was in power...’. From The Corner comes the balanced review ‘The new all or nothing government for Spain’ here.
‘Sánchez also had a message for the opposition parties that have been questioning the legitimacy of the coalition government. “The first principal of a democracy is to accept the result at the polls,” he said. “There are only two options: a progressive coalition or more deadlock for Spain.”’.
From El País in English: ‘What can he push through parliament?’ It asks. ‘Sánchez’ term in office is likely to come under all kinds of threats, right from the first days. The two-part investiture debate that took place over the weekend and concluded on Tuesday has only confirmed fears of a highly charged atmosphere in Spain’s lower house of parliament going forward...’.
The program includes tax-hikes for the wealthy (‘a professional who earns 12,000€ a month is unlikely to take off for the Bahamas because he’ll be paying an extra 20€’, says the ElDiario.es here while LibreMercado calls it ‘the highest tax hikes in living history’).
The pressure on the PSOE (or one of the satellite parties such as Teruel Existe: ‘there’s no chance of me changing my vote’) to find a chink in their armour, someone who was prepared to break rank and vote against Sánchez for president, was tremendous (here and here).  Indeed, the Coalición Canaria leader Ana Oramas finally defied her party’s decision to abstain (for reasons best known to herself) and voted against Sánchez.
What is terrifying (frankly) for the conservatives, industry and the church is the prospect of the first ministers from outside the PP/PSOE machine – five of them, no less, from Unidas Podemos:  Pablo Iglesias (vice-president), together with Irene Montero, Yolanda Díaz, Alberto Garzón (the IU leader) and Manuel Castells.
The thing is, if this wobbly coalition falls under its own weight of improbability, the fractious right will take the country and rule for a long time to come.


‘The emptying of Spain's interior. Spain's rural regions have lost 28 percent of their populations in the past 50 years’. Item from Al Jazeera here.

Empty Spain (la España Vacia): Reddit has a map of Spain, with Madrid in green and the same number of residents spread through much of the rest of the country marked in red. There’s a lot of red.

The site where a scene in Exodus and another in Game of Thrones were shot has been put on the market with a licence to build 411 houses. The land is 65 hectares and has all permissions says La Voz de Almería.

Spain has a $38,000 million property hangover, says Bloomberg here. The article examines the ‘”the bad bank” Sareb’s poor sales-techniques. ‘...As with Goldman Sachs & Co., which tried unsuccessfully last year to persuade the bad bank to sell a large portfolio, investors are finding out that a complicated operational structure and conflicting shareholder interests make buying assets from Sareb difficult. Its chief, Jaime Echegoyen, concedes Sareb’s record isn’t exemplary. “We try to guarantee that the investor clients receive the service they deserve in each one but it’s possible it’s not always like that,” he said in an interview in Madrid...’.

Público looks at the issues facing the private island of Valdecañas in Extremadura. Does it clash with planning and land protection laws?  The Guardian chimes in with ‘'It was a dump': locals and ecologists clash over future of Spanish island resort. Battle rages for twelve years over half-built tourist complex that some say should be returned to nature’. The best guess is that it will, like the Hotel Algarrobico hulk in Almería, never be resolved.

Fuengirola has abolished licences on obra menor – small building jobs – that are budgeted at under 30,000 says Diario Sur here.

El Zuluista (the ‘hideaway-guy’) looks at the silliest and pokiest places on the market during the past year. Prepare to be amused.


Over half of all summer 2020 reservations for the La Manga de Mar Menor resort (Murcia) have been cancelled due to the pollution in the inland sea, says La Crónica del Pajarito here.

El País reports that the Málaga City Hall has decided to control the number of bars to be given licences, in order to allow residents a little peace and quiet away from the hurley-burley and hullabaloo. 103 streets have been declared as ‘noise saturated zones’ and will not be allowed any fresh hostelry licences for the next five years.

Madrid’s huge tourist fair, the FITUR, takes place this year 22nd to 25th January. It will be open to the public on the final two days.


Did you have a flutter on the Christmas lottery? Mathematically speaking, you know, your chances of winning 'el Gordo' are the same if you play one number or one hundred different numbers. Zero. Of course, the state wins. It wins the Gordo every year. This year, for example, it took 2,636,000,000€ from sales of its various lotteries.

From Wolf Street here: ‘Over the past five years, Spain’s economy has grown at a faster rate than almost any other in the Euro-zone. But not everyone has benefited. And a new report by the Bank of Spain confirms that no one has paid as heavy a price as the generation that came of age in the years immediately before and after the collapse of Spain’s insane housing bubble and the banking crisis that followed. The Bank of Spain’s triennial Family Financial Survey, based on data through 2017, shows that heads of households under the age of 35 saw their median gross income (income before taxes and contributions) plunge by 18% from 2010 to 2017...’.

El País says that Brussels ‘disapproves’ of the rule that requires the declaration of assets abroad. It says ‘The Commission publishes the summary of the appeal with which it brings before the European Court of Justice the controversial aspects of Model 720’. How far are we from seeing this unfair tax (or the horrific fines associated with it) removed? There’s a while to go yet, apparently. However, Hacienda has now changed its tune about allowing possible ‘friendly resolutions’ to those accused of tax-fraud. La Información saysHacienda is owed in taxes over 41,000 million euros...’.

The insurance giant Generali has teamed up with Union Investment to buy Spain’s largest commercial centre, Zaragoza’s Puerto de Venecia, for 475 million euros. The story here.


Post investiture rhetoric, Pablo Casado says he wants to lead the Partido Popular into a centrist and moderate party.

The PSOE says they will seek legal advice against the threats and improper offers made against their members to switch their vote away from Pedro Sánchez.

You can’t please everybody. From ElDiario.es comes: ‘The Episcopal leadership rebels against the PSOE-Unidas Podemos pact and calls for "prayers for Spain"’ Meanwhile, a MEP from Vox wants to call out the army ‘... against the communists Iglesias and Garzón who want to destroy Spain as a nation with a coup d’état...’.

The far right in Spain (blog-post by Lenox) here.

The right-wing wants people to avoid Teruel, where nobody goes anyway, because the local party Teruel Existe is on the side of the angels. Hilarity ensues over at Twitter. However, the leader for the provincial party Tomás Guitarte says that by Tuesday he had received at least 8,800 emails from those who wanted him to switch his support away from Sánchez. A (no doubt atypical) Vox supporter interrupts a TV interview in Teruel with the member of the new party: ‘If we have to shoot you, we will’ (video). Meanwhile, some hotels in Teruel are receiving cancelations from small-minded holiday-makers: ‘I hope you have a catastrophic year’, says one in an e-mail.

The government of Bolivia is teaming up with Spain’s Vox to see if Podemos received finance from the previous Bolivian government of Evo Morales.


Putting a severe spoke in the Spanish wheel, ‘The European Parliament formally recognizes Junqueras, Puigdemont and Comín as MEPs’, says El Huff Post here. Junqueras should be freed in the next couple of days.

In a remarkable slap in the face for Spain, Oriol Junqueras has not only been accepted into the fourth largest group in the European Parliament – the Greens-EFA – he has been made their vice-president. The item comes from ElDiario.es here.


From an editorial in ElDiario.es here: ‘The European ruling on the parliamentary immunity of Oriol Junqueras leaves the Spanish Supreme Court looking bad. It also makes a mockery of the Criminal Chamber that judged the pròces. The Prosecutor's Office, which supported the decision of the Supreme Court to skip parliamentary immunity also has egg on its face. Then there are all those who wanted to use the same judicial shortcuts against Catalan independence that were used against Basque terrorism. Today they stand before us, looking wrongly at the camera...’.


An article about the UK in La Vanguardia written by a dispirited Spaniard who works there: ‘Brexit has divided society’ he says. The same paper returns to the subject here with ‘Spaniards in Brexit: "In England there are many jobs that English don’t want"’. And again, the paper talks with Arturo Ezquerro — professor at the London based Institute of Group Analysis: "London is different from xenophobic England. Some see the new prime minister, Boris Johnson, as a substitute for Henry VIII, who challenged the authority of the Pope and established the Anglican Church."

‘International tax barrister Leon Fernando Del Canto looks at what Brexit will mean for businesses and individuals in the EU and in particular for the large number of British citizens living and working in Spain’, Article at Bloomberg Tax here.


The Government has decided to not publish the names of those who are in the Comisión de Propiedad Intelectual, under the control of the Ministry of Culture. This agency can close down websites guilty of copyright breaches. The story is here.

National TV doesn’t have adverts but it does have advertising disguised as ‘sponsorship’. This has brought in a cool 92,000,000€ since 2010 when advertising was dropped.

One of the answers to the fall in income for newspapers is a paywall – but this brings in turn a fall in readership. El Mundo for example, with its partial paywall, has lost a million readers in a month apparently. Currently, the most read news-source on the Internet is La Vanguardia. The paywall problem for the moment being, that a subscription (El Mundo for example is eight euros a month) only buys the reader one news-source to read.

El Español rather cynically calls those who voted for the government on Tuesday ‘the Saviours of Sánchez’.

Telecinco showed its Tuesday film as the Investiture was taking place in Madrid: ‘No Escape’ with Pierce Brosnan, or, to use its Spanish title, ‘Golpe de Estado’. Is the TV company owned by Silvio Berlusconi trying to tell us something? LaSexta chose another film with an interesting subject – Mel Gibson’s Conspiracy Theory. See VerTele here.

Sometimes, of course, it's the humourists who get the chop. The editor and a cartoonist from the comic magazine La Traca (1884 - 1938), Vicent Miguel Carceller and Carlos Gómez Carrera, were executed after the Civil War by the fascists.


‘Estepona town hall plants over 16,000 trees in seven years as part of its green plan’ – item from Sur in English here.

The province of Málaga, between one thing and another, pumps 123,000,000 cubic metres of fecal water into the Med annually says La Opinión de Málaga here.

Iberdrola has completed in Usagre, Hinojosa del Valle and Bienvenida, located in Badajoz, the largest solar plant in Europe. The 500MW Núñez de Balboa plant is around 1,000 hectares in size.

From El País here: ‘The Albufera of Valencia, paradise and hell. A lack of water, pollution from urban and agricultural spills, uncontrolled hunting and climate change all threaten the natural lagoon park’.


Bring ’em back, says the Spanish Government, which has earmarked 24,000,000€ for a campaign to help expatriate Spaniards return home says Europe Street News here.

One plan for the new PSOE/Podemos coalition which should be well-received (in certain quarters): to only allow 'gaming saloons' (gambling dens, if you prefer) to open after 10.00pm. To put up warnings against the perils of 'ludopatía' (gambling addiction) as well in the entrances. Goodness, perhaps they'll stop advertising the Bonoloto and the ONCE each evening on the national TV! (There's a large advert next to this story in El País in the cyber-version seen by Business over Tapas, showing the National Lottery winning numbers!).

The province of León could be the flagship of a new autonomous region: La Región Leonesa, with associate provinces of Zamora and Salamanca. The vote for the new region was overwhelming in the León City Hall on Friday 27th December. León is currently in the region of Castilla y León, made up of nine provinces: Ávila, Burgos, León, Palencia, Salamanca, Segovia, Soria, Valladolid, Zamora. It’ll take a change in the Constitution, say the legal experts.

Electricity in Spain in 2019 was 26.5% more expensive than it was in Germany.

The Silence of Others reveals the epic struggle of victims of Spain’s 40-year dictatorship under General Franco, who continue to seek justice to this day. Filmed over six years, the film follows victims and survivors as they organize the groundbreaking “Argentine Lawsuit” and fight a state-imposed amnesia of crimes against humanity, in a country still divided four decades into democracy’. Trailer and link here.

Morocco is claiming ownership of the Atlantic as far out as the Canary Islands, says the ABC here.

Some of Spain’s toll-roads are now free, says El Español, while others still charge for use.

‘The AVE, Spain’s high-speed nightmare?’ A video on YouTube here. ‘In recent decades, Spain has built an extensive high-speed train network. We’re talking about the second largest network on the entire planet and number one when compared to the size of the Spanish population. And there’s an almost total political consensus regarding this infrastructure. The AVE, which is the Spanish network, is almost a source of national pride. However, economic data tell us a very different story...’.

‘New traffic rules for 2020 mean crackdown on scooters and six-point penalty for using phone in car’. The Olive Press has the story here.

The worry is that there aren’t enough women cyclists in Seville. The solution, spend 30,000€ in giving them cycling classes. El Diario de Sevilla has the remarkable story here.

Marijuana busts in Almería at Spanish Shilling here.

From ViralDimas here: ‘Spain, the country where laws paralyze the progress of science’. The problems, according to this article, can be summed up in one word: bureaucracy.

Found at El País in English here: ‘“I don’t care a pepper”: Antonio Banderas offers a crash course in Spanish slang. Vanity Fair asked the actor to translate odd expressions used in Spain. This is what he came up with – and more importantly, what they mean.’ (Thanks David).

‘In Spain, state secrets never see the light of day. A Francoist law of 1968 is the lock that prevents them from being released. Successive governments have done nothing to change this. They were afraid. Silence still surrounds the world of secrets, where they are, who handles them and what they contain’. El País runs a feature story and video on Spain’s Secretos de Estado.

El Cid re-examined at El País in English here. (The recent Arturo Pérez-Reverte novel, Sidi, is a good read, says Lenox, if a little inaccurate).

The Alcazaba de Almería, the XI Century castle, was put on the market by the City Hall in 1866 for 1,175 pesetas. Luckily, there were no takers. Spanish Shilling has the story here.

See Spain:

España Fascinante
takes us to seventeen of Spain’s most beautiful medieval villages here.


Thanks Lenox, BoT gives both a searching and honest view of contemporary Spain...



Un inglés vino a Bilbao
Para ver la ría y el mar
Cuando vio a las Bilbainicas
Ya no se quiso marchar.
Los Chimberos sing of the Englishman who came to Bilbao on YouTube here.